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Comparison of Pedagogical Approaches


Play is imperative not only for the physical development of a child, but also in the cognitive and socio-cultural aspects of development (Staempfli, 2008). Through appropriate play, children access the opportunity to learn how express their thoughts and feelings appropriately, develop communication and interpersonal skills, and learn how to interact and understand other children especially in the contemporary diverse community (O’Brien, 2009). It grants a child the means through which he or she can explore their immediate environment and the whole world, as well as the sense of self (Brown & Patte, 2012). This report compares Montessori Education and Forest Schools; evaluates how they align with the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and recommends the best alternative between the two approaches.

Overview of the Two Approaches

Forest Schools

The approach denotes an innovative pedagogical approach to outdoor play and learning (Knight, 2013). With its roots in Denmark, the approach was initially intended for pres-school children aged seven years and below and is anchored on encouraging and inspiring people via positive experiences and involvement in engaging and motivating attainable tasks and activities in a woodland context; assisting the individuals to develop individual, social, emotional skills that result in self-independence, self-discovery, self-confidence, improved communication skills, as well as enhanced self-esteem (Knight, 2013). Most Forest School sites are uniquely designed to meet the learning needs of the groups. The approach believes that children need more independent, risky, active, playful, thinking outside the norm, and exposed to real life experiences occurring in a natural (woodland) environment via play (O’Brien, 2009). Moreover, learning programs are organized throughout the year in all weathers; and kids utilize full sized tools, play, learn social and physical boundaries of behavior, and develop their level of confidence, esteem, and motivation.

Montessori Education

Montessori education is a major pedagogical philosophies in early childhood embraced in a number of preschools. Furthermore, this approach is not age specific as it accommodates children from birth all the way through high. However, the ages 2 to 6 age group that the founder of this philosophy, Dr. Montessori, started her practice in the first Children’s House, is today the most served in Montessori education (Freeman, Dalli & Pickering, 2016). Moreover, the concept of Montessori is neither patented nor protected; therefore there exist no barrier for using the name for an individual with an exciting prospect of establishing a preschool. This includes those individuals without training as well as lacking an understanding of the philosophy.

(toys) that correct themselves, which implies that, for example, the objects the child assembled are correct based on the structure assembly, rather than the teacher showing the learner how to fit the structures. The instructor assist the children to figure out their way into the learning materials, the majority of which constitutes puzzles that get the kids more involved at this level. manipulatesThe approach is child-centered, with instructors guiding the learning process (Freeman, Dalli & Pickering, 2016). Despite focus more on academics, the approach incorporate play and allows children to learn at their own pace. It utilizes

Comparison of the two Pedagogical Approaches

Montessori Education

In Montessori education, the image of a child as perceived by instructors is that the young child is internally guided and it is this internal guidance that draws them to activities and experiences that assist them to accomplish every phase of the development in a successive fashion (Freeman, Dalli & Pickering, 2016). Instructors are primarily tasked with creating and maintaining a prepared learning context that is well planned and sufficient in learning materials and diverse opportunities that enables every kid to follow their internal influence for experience and learning. The instructor is expected to observe, utilizing what the children learn to figure out how they can alt the context to serve them better. Moreover, the teacher assists the kids by providing individual lessons on new learning resources and directing them in doing assignments.

Also, it recognizes the critical role of play and environment in not only a child’s learning, but in a child’s cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development. Particularly, the learning environment is furnished with enjoyable and visually appealing materials that align with the instruction strategy and arranged in an increasing-complexity manner, which helps the children to develop from one level of comprehension to the next. Most of the materials allow children to detect mistakes hence allowing for self-correction. Its purpose is to nurture the learner’s in-built motivation to learn and lacks punishments or rewards. On the contrary, they are based on trust in the kid’s potential to learn from the natural outcomes of their individual actions.

Today, this approach can be seen in practice in early childhood classrooms in a number of ways. First, contemporary early childhood classroom strive to meet the learning needs of each child. In the course of rapid development of an individual, each stage of development process out to regulate the learning children go through, satisfying the needs of every kid. As a result, classrooms incorporate play and other diverse learning activities with the primary view of maximizing each child’s learning. Furthermore, Montessori classrooms are multi-age; grouped based on age groups, which offers younger children the opportunity to learn from their older classmates and allow the older to mentor, model, and teacher the younger ones.

The Early Years Life Framework (EYLF) was primarily developed to help instructors to offer children with opportunities to maximize their ability and establish a base for effective and successful learning (Perry, Dockett & Harley, 2012). EYLF is anchored on the premise that early childhood is a fundamental stage in children’s learning and development. Montessori education focuses on meeting the needs of the child. The EYLF acknowledges the need to provide diverse and sufficient learning materials, opportunities, interactions and experiences that enable the kids to follow their individual interests and interactions.

Second, this approach incorporates play in children instruction and learning hence aligning with the Framework’s play-based learning. In a Montessori, children can be engaged in modeling and fitting toy houses and such structures, create a child centered environment, utilizes actual objects and tools and involves the children in real life experiences. Through play, the children learn to recognize boundaries, to work with natural phenomena suing tools appropriately, they become encourage to care for the world, and improve their level of confidence, independence and self-esteem (Sumsion et al., 2009).

However, a Montessori classroom fails to align with EYLF as it does not acknowledge interdependence during learning. It does not perceive children as part of a community; rather kids are made to work largely on their own in a quiet environment of utmost concentration. This sense of interdependence is essential to children’s proper development because it helps them to establish the foundation of relationships in defining identities.

Forest Schools

Forest Schools perceive a child as more active and playful. They promote active, practical learning by focusing on “learning by doing” in which the instructor asks questions to the kids while they are involved in performing tasks and activities with the view of fostering reasoning. The approach is unique in the sense that learning happens in a natural environment, which creates a chance for individuals of all ages to indulge in hands-on learning in a woodland context (Knight, 2013). Forest School is incorporated in regular school sessions mostly in preschool and elementary in which the kids learn in a woodland site located inside or outside the school ground. In this approach, the kids are allowed the freedom to engage in diverse activities and experiences like constructing shelters, preparing food on camp fires, and identifying flora and fauna (Ridgers, Knowles & Sayers, 2012). It centers on the entirety of the child and his or her experience, hence developing his or her independence and self-esteem via interaction not only with the physical world, but also with the their classmates as their social world.

Teachers adopt a constructive perspective when instructing children in a Forest School classroom which diverts from the traditional perspective of instruction where instructors teach learners and then assess their abilities. On the contrary, the constructivist perspectives embraced in both approaches involve hands-on learning and problem solving because the learners actively make meaning when they commit mistakes and errors. Despite knowledge involving facts and behavior, it more principally calls for understanding, which Forest School teachers promote by enabling children to actively construct understanding via interacting with their physical as well as social contexts.

Unlike in Montessori education, play constitutes an important element in Forest Schools. Creating an adequately stimulating learning environment is never adequate in childhood learning; rather children need to be granted more freedom to engage in structured and unstructured play, indoor and outdoor environments (Knight, 2013). This argument is in tandem with the Forest School philosophy which is based on the premise that children tend to learn better when their instructor actively engage them through diverse ways, such as modeling appropriate language and conduct, engaging intelligent discussions, asking open-ended questions, and incorporates play to boost their morale and encouragement (Sumsion et al., 2009).

Play and the learning environment are intricately related in a Forest School (Knight, 2013). To ensure that children engage in adequate and diverse play, children learn are often specifically designed to foster care and learning opportunities for all the participants. The philosophy of Forest Schools is seen in practice in early childhood classrooms. For instance, children are allowed to engage in playful activities such as constructing shelter for themselves, building a toy or woodland animal, digging, mud painting, and identifying and naming animals and plants within the environment (O’Brien, 2009). In a nutshell, both approaches create a learning environment via which children access the chance to organize and make sense of their physical and social context.

Furthermore, Forest Schools also focus on play and meeting the learning needs of each child. This scheme allows the kids to learn at their own pace through participating in diverse activities that can be connected to learning objectives or outcomes as outlined by the class course or national curriculum, including developing literacy skills and arithmetic abilities (O’Brien, 2009). This is accomplished by stimulating them through increasing their morale rather than subjecting them to and imposing to them things the teacher compel them to be interested in.

Moreover, the concept of supporting children’s development by letting them to pursue personal interests is practiced in Forest Schools. For example, the outdoor learning can be viewed as a natural “extension” of a classroom context, as effective learning and instruction is expected to offer the opportunity to more and think freely. This is critical to their holistic learning and development, which are at the heart of the EYLF. Recognizing the intricate connection among these aspects make the approaches more holistic just as EYLF suggests (Perry, Dockett & Harley, 2012).

Additionally, Forest School approach aligns with the framework on the basis of promoting a sense of belonging. This can be depicted in the element of interdependence during learning. For instance children create secure, respectful, and reciprocal relationships whereby they not only learn from each other, but also learn from their teacher who facilitates the learning process (Ridgers, Knowles & Sayers, 2012).

Conclusion Recommendation

Both Montessori education and Forest School approaches can work for this prospective preschool. However, Forest Schools experience is more effective as its addresses many aspects of the EYLF without the learning necessitating a curriculum. An array of learning activities is designed in special consideration of the potential of each child within the group. Furthermore, the children improve their teamwork skills through the structured and unstructured game that characterize the approach like hide and seek, shelter construction, tool skills, lighting fires and mud painting, among other environment base activities. These activities allow the children to sharpen both intra and interpersonal skills coupled with fundamental hands-on and technical skills in early childhood learning and development.

Additionally, the system involves constant assessment of learning activities and re-adjustment in the course of the day in order to satisfy the unique learning demands of each group and child. They can be asked to engage in a wide range of activities like shouting out, drawing, painting, modeling, acting or just playing a game in the attempt to review what they have covered throughout the day, allowing self-reflection on what they have acquired during the day. The teacher observes/monitors progress of each child to ensure that he or she realizes set goals and objectives.


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Knight, S. (2013). Forest school and outdoor learning in the early years. Sage.

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Perry, B., Dockett, S., & Harley, E. (2012). The early years learning framework for Australia and the Australian curriculum—mathematics: linking educators’ practice through pedagogical inquiry questions. Engaging the Australian curriculum mathematics: perspectives from the field, 153-174.

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Staempfli, M. B. (2008). Reintroducing adventure into children’s outdoor play environments. Environment and Behavior.

Sumsion, J., Barnes, S., Cheeseman, S., Harrison, L., Kennedy, A., & Stonehouse, A. (2009). Insider perspectives on developing belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 34(4), 4-14.